LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Miami completed its trade Thursday that sent left fielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals, the third All-Star jettisoned by the Marlins this month in an unrelenting payroll purge under new CEO Derek Jeter.
St. Louis dealt four prospects to the Marlins: right-handers Sandy Alcantara and Zac Gallen, outfielder Magneuris Sierra and left-hander Daniel Castano.
Miami traded second baseman Dee Gordon to Seattle last Thursday for three prospects and dealt right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the reigning National League MVP, to the New York Yankees on Monday for second baseman Starlin Castro and two prospects.
“This is the direction we are taking, and we’re committed to it, and we’re going to build this thing the right way from the ground up,” Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill said before the trade was finalized. “And I think that’s the part of it that we have to stay committed to, because when you get off of that path, that’s when you empty out your system, and for an organization like the Marlins, we have to be able to reach into our system. Our system has to be a constant and consistent feeder for our major league team.”
Center fielder Christian Yelich could be the next to exit the downsizing Marlins, bought by Bruce Sherman’s group on Oct. 2. Miami had a $116 million payroll on Aug. 31, up from $81 million at the end of last year, and is intent on reducing obligations. Stanton was owed $295 million over the next decade, and Gordon $38 million through 2020.
“We’re going to take a step back, reassess where everything is, what we were able to accomplish here at the meetings and then continue on and prepare for spring training,” Hill said.
An All-Star the past two seasons, the 27-year-old Ozuna set career bests this season with a .312 average, 37 homers and 124 RBIs. He is eligible for salary arbitration and likely will earn more than $10 million. He can become a free agent after the 2019 season.
“Ozuna is one of those names that you have to have great respect, especially as much we see him,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Wednesday. “We’re at that necessary point of talking through health always, no matter what the player is. It’s not just a formality.”
St. Louis had a deal in place for Stanton last week, but he invoked his no-trade clause and blocked the move.
“I was just very impressed the fact that we were involved in those conversations,” Matheny said. “Unfortunately, that didn’t work, but I think that just kind of parlayed into, OK, now what are we going to do?”
Ozuna likely will be in the outfielder with Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham. Matheny wouldn’t commit to an alignment.
“Something we’re appreciative of is the humility of our players to maybe go to a spot where they haven’t been before,” he said. “You go in with your ideals of what you would like to see, and you’re going to have to be flexible.”
St. Louis traded right fielder Stephen Piscotty to Oakland for infield prospects Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock. That deal allows Piscotty to be near his family’s home in Pleasanton, California, following his mother’s diagnosis with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Also Thursday, the Cardinals and right-hander reliever Luke Gregerson finalized an $11 million, two-year contract.
Miami receives highly regarded prospects in the 21-year-old Sierra and 22-year-old Alcantara. Sierra hit .317 over 22 games in his first big league season this year and also batted .270 with 21 doubles, seven triples 20 steals and 44 RBIs at Class A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield. The 22-year-old Alcantara made his debut Sept. 3 and had a 4.32 ERA in eight relief appearances. He was 7-5 with a 4.31 ERA in 22 starts and three relief appearances at Springfield.
Gallen, 22, was 10-7 with a 2.93 ERA in 26 starts at three minor league levels and Castano, 23, was an All-Star in the Class A New York-Penn League, going 9-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 starts for State College.
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